University of Toronto Magazine University of Toronto Magazine

Poplar Science

An international team has decoded the genetic sequence of a tree

Poet Joyce Kilmer advised that only God can make a tree, but an international team of researchers has decoded the complete genetic instructions for the black cottonwood tree. Professor Malcolm Campbell, of U of T’s Centre for Analysis of Genome Evolution and Function in the department of cell and systems biology, is co-author of a paper published in Science, which reports on the complete genome sequence of the tree. A member of the poplar family, the black cottonwood is the first tree, and third plant, to have its genome completely sequenced. This will allow new insights into how forest trees grow and survive, including how they contend with challenges from weather, pests and diseases, and how they respond to global climate change.

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